Chapter Reflection Questions and Explorations

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  1. Why is it important to know the trophic levels of a food web?

  2. What is the distinction between a soil profile and soil properties?

  3. Looking at the five steps of a food system, which step would you say has undergone the most change since the Green Revolution?

  4. What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of diversified farming?

  5. What ethical principle do you see expressed in the efforts of the Fair Trade Movement?

  6. In what way would you say that the virtue of courage is important in efforts to build a more sustainable food system?

  7. In the Food and Spirituality section there were several references to the role of art in expressing our inner relationship with food. Which of the art examples did you find most interesting. Why?

  8. Why do you think food is so often used in religious rituals around the world?


  1. The Soil Science Society of America has an interactive map that features state soil booklets developed and written by soil scientists to provide in-depth information on each state soil. If you live in the United States, check out the information on your state’s soil. If you do not live in the United States, what resources can you access to find out about your region’s soil?

  2. In the Food and Science section you learned important facts about the history of agriculture. For further information on this fascinating topic you can go to the powerpoint in ‘Lesson A: Exploring Our Food System’, a curricular resource from FoodSpan, an educational arm of Johns Hopkins University.

  3. Food fraud and adulteration is a major problem in the industrial food system. A major study of the phenomenon has recently been released by researchers in Brazil. To get a thorough understanding of this global problem, read the report “Economically Motivated Food Fraud and Adulteration in Brazil: Incidents and Alternatives to Minimize Occurrence”

  4. Andrew Youn thinks we can help millions of African Farmers grow more food. Watch his TED talk and analyze the pros and cons of his ideas.

  5. For a thorough 2018 report from the United Nations on world hunger, go to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.

  6. The Markula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University offers an informative lesson on Food and Agricultural Ethics. You can find it here.

  7. In the Food and Spirituality section mention was made of the Jewish schochet, the an who butchers animals according to Kashrut Laws. The actual procedures that a schochet follows in the ritual slaughter (or shechita) are fascinating in their details and rationale. Read this description of the shechita process. The comparison between the Jewish shechita and the Muslim ritual slaughtering process (or dhabīhah) is likewise fascinating for what it teaches about the spiritual values both religions find in food. Read this description of the dhabīhah.